Slow Cooker Chalupa

The schedules finally aligned for me to take engagement photos for my sister and her fiance this past weekend. I know I mentioned before how nervous I was to take their pictures because they aren't food and for some reason they wouldn't let me arrange them in a bowl and put some parsley on their heads and call it good. I hadn't taken formal pictures of people before, but it turned out to be a lot of fun. I learned there are some surprising advantages to taking pictures of human subjects over food, such as:

1) Humans smile in pictures. Much as I try, I can never quite get a bowl of pasta to crack a smile.

2) Humans move themselves. It's amazing. You can see something you want different in a picture and just tell your subject to move. I've never been able to able to get a dish to arrange its own garnishes, but my sister did really well at pulling her hair out of her face.

3) The ability to say "Work it" without looking creepy. (Maybe.)

4) Torturing my sister and future brother-in-law by making them hold a kiss for way longer than is comfortable.

I'm not sure I'm ready to start a business of taking engagement photos, seeing as I downloaded the pictures to my computer and realized that half of them weren't in focus on their faces, but at least it was a fun time and a good learning experience.

I was missing my human subjects when it came time to photograph this little dish because, no exaggeration, I've tried three times over the course of the past year to get a good picture of it and have failed horribly every time. Sometimes shredded meat from the slow cooker is just not as good to see as it is to taste, and this is one of those recipes. I kept taking pictures of it, though, because it is one of the staple dishes at our house and I really wanted to share it. It's extremely easy, very cheap, tastes good and makes such a large batch that my husband and I could quite possibly be eating leftovers of it for an entire week. (Not that we've done this. More than once. No, not at all.) It is one of those great, easy recipes that I found during my college days that I've been making ever since. I usually serve the cooked meat and bean mixture over some tortilla chips and lettuce as a kind of salad, but my husband likes to scoop it up with Fritos and I've put it in burritos or quesadillas when I'm out of chips. It may not be the sexiest looking dish to photograph, but it's one you'll love to have in your recipe collection.

Slow Cooker Chalupa


  • 1 lb dry pinto beans, washed and sorted
  • 3-4 lb pork roast (bone-in is okay)
  • 5 cups water
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 T chili powder
  • 1 T cumin
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 small can green chiles
  • Tortilla chips or flour tortillas
  • Toppings, such as cheese, sour cream, tomatoes, cilantro, etc


  1. Combine everything but the tortilla chips and toppings in a 5-6 quart slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-9 hours (or high for 4-5) or until meat is tender and falling off the bone.
  2. Remove meat from slow cooker and shred. Strain the excess liquid from the slow cooker into a gravy separator and let sit for 5-10 minutes to allow the fat to separate. Combine the shredded meat and beans in the slow cooker and add strained liquid as needed to achieved desired moisture.
  3. Serve over chips or flour tortillas and top with desired toppings.
Prep Time: 10 min Cook Time: 5-10 hours Serves: 8-10

Recipe Source: adapted from The Slow Cooker Cookbook

12 Click For Comments:

Holy yum. This looks so delicious, Nicole! Definitely not sexy but I bet it was absolutely scrumptious, haha! Thanks for sharing.

Haha, funny--I just sent a friend a link to this post asking her advice on how to get my pictures to look like this! So I think you definitely succeeded in making a decent picture out of this :) My pictures I fear will all end up on some side like cooksuck.com, but I suppose that could be fun in its own way...

I think this looks great! Certainly better than I could ever get a pile of shredded meat to look. :) PS do we get to see a few pics from the photo shoot?! Also, I think that food that smiles would be weird. Just throwing that out there. :)

Shredded meat, especially pork, is one of my absolute favorite things to eat!  I think you've done a great job of making it look delicious, I wish we were having it at my house tonight.

looks awesome. Shredded pork may not be great in a photo but it tastes delicious! Your photos look awesome!

I bet the engagement pics came out awesome! You're a wonderful food photographer :) This recipe sounds awesome.

I need to check with the happy couple to see if they'd want me to share their pics. Hopefully soon.

You're totally right about smiling food. Just plain creepy. :)

It's a learning process, Bee, but your pics have been getting so good! For me the key is natural light. 

Aw, thanks! I've noticed natural light is totally key, the trouble is I work all day and by the time I've finished making a meal it's dark outside. And leftovers rarely look as nice the next day if it's food-food and not something like a cupcake or cookie. But I'm working on it!

Wow! I could've eaten this for breakfast. :)

Looks wonderful! It is really hard to get flattering pictures of dishes that color, but I think you did a fabulous job. 

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